Many medical businesses are preparing to register to offer services of diagnosing whiplash injuries for solicitors tackling soft tissue injury claims. However, under plans recently revealed by the Ministry of Justice, they could have to pay as much as £75,000 to do so – and this has provoked concerns that it could lead to an insufficient number of registered doctors and organisations.
The Ministry has announced that medical reporting organisations – or MROs – will, from 6 April, have to be registered with MedCo Registration Solutions before they can provide a solicitor with an initial fixed cost medical report for them to use as evidence in a soft tissue injury claim.
However, a major cause for concern is that, whichever of two tiers they are assigned to as part of a random allocation scheme, organisations will have to pay five-figure yearly fees – of £75,000 for top tier businesses and £15,000 for the second tier. Also, each MRO will have to pay a security bond – of £100,000 for the top tier and £20,000 for the second – and each initial diagnosis report will cost the MRO in question a fixed fee of £180.
These fees have prompted worries that doctors and organisations could choose to depart the claimant sector and leave, by 6 April, a lack of whiplash diagnosis experts on the register. A Motor Accident Solicitors Society spokesperson has warned about the potentially adverse consequences of the “short timescales for MROs to consider the implications, understand how they will be affected and what the scheme will cost, and decide whether to proceed to register”.
Nonetheless, the Ministry of Justice has reported a “significant” response to a survey of pre-registration interest in the scheme and expressed its belief that there will not be a shortage of doctors to offer services of whiplash injury diagnosis to solicitors.